Scars, Pain, & Despair

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Chapter Seventeen

Astera

Three full days passed me since I left Proserpina in that town, alone. Nobody noticed or asked questions just assuming she was avoiding me. I reported to the Uncle, day after day of nothing that revealed when Proserpina was going to be back. He began to leave the motel room more often, taking trips out of town to meet a few friends without telling me who he was meeting or what it was about. His grin was held more joy each day that passed when he returned, terrifying me enough to go pray for safety from God.

Now I spoke urgently with Carl the man whom I trusted dealt with Proserpina like he was supposed to after I left, in his apartment in a neighboring town. Carl had chin length, shaggy auburn hair, a loose tank top on his torso and plaid shorts.

"What happened with Proserpina?" I demanded from him.

"Who?" Carl spoke around the apple he was munching on.

"The girl I left in town, what happened?"

"Oh her, yeah I didn't speak with her. I left shortly after you left town."

"What?!! You better have a good reason as to why Carl?!!" I paced back and forth wanting to punch him in the throat.

"When it began to get dark a gentlemanly kind of guy sat down and spoke with her. Then after dark hit he left and a sneaking little weasel of a man led her away into the night. Therefore I didn't speak with her or do anything really?" Fear gripped my throat threatening to choke me as I did to Carl when he got through with his explanation.

"You mean to tell me Carl, that the girl could have been dead for days." I grind my teeth together.

"Well yeah but Astera, you have to remember it takes days for a person to return from that place so the girl should be on her way." Carl didn't flinch when I tightened my grip but instead threw his apple core further into the room. "Chill out, she is technically on schedule if you think about it." Releasing Carl I left the apartment at a sprint.

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Kaden

Today I hadn't seen Proserpina yet again so when Astera told me she had to speak to me, I followed her quickly into a nearby room. Closing the door gently I turned to Astera ready for the news when I caught the sight of newly pouring tears in her cheeks.

"What is it Astera?" I spoke as softly as I closed the door not wanting to frighten her further into tears.

"Kaden...I didn't want to I swear," Astera started stuttering and spitting out the news. Before she even finished my sympathy dropped from my tone and everything I felt for Astera at that moment and I left the house.

"I'm sorry Kaden!" Astera cried out from behind me but I didn't stop.

I could've stopped this, I could've done something! She is gone and I don't know what to do now. Protect her was all I wanted to do when she was here. Why was I unable to do that? It was real simple and yet Proserpina is gone from her room, the house, the county and into one with no mercy. What could be happening to her now?

I didn't stop until I reached Thia's location near the barn to briefly inform her why we hadn't seen Proserpina for days then not fully allowing myself to evaluate my actions, I sprinted into the road and didn't let anything in my head talk me out of it. The night air slowly crept into my blood as I ran but I didn't slow until I ran too far to go back to the house and rethink this. I needed this to be my only choice.

I arrived at the town by sunrise allowing me to rest from my endless, tiring run. Even as the sun was just starting to rise, people were already coming out. Most waiting for shops to open, getting coffee or heading back to the bar for drinks. Many eyes laid on me while I strolled through the streets helping to irritate me with no sleep and starving for food.

"Are you lost?" A high pitched woman's voice called over but I waved it away knowing what she wants.

"Hey I was talking to you!" I kept walking approaching one of the outside bars that sat in the shade. A big brute of a man leaned on the bar speaking quietly with the tender before turning to me. The man was about 6 feet tall and covered with tattoos from his bald head to his knuckles.

"There something I can do for you kid?" His voice was deep and smooth not at all drunk or laced with alcohol.

"That depends did you happen to see two girls or just one girl three nights ago. One with brown hair, jeans, t shirt, quiet?"

"No I didn't."

"How about blonde, confident, same attire?"

"Kid, you're wasting your time. If they liked you, they wouldn't have gone missing," the man sneered at, turning back to the bar. Imitating Uncle, I darkened my stare, widened my stance, and forcefully turned the man back to me.

"I know you did. You what come here every day hang out during the day then come back for a few drinks before dark. As we all know nothing good comes when the sun goes down around here. For some odd reason you hang around the area watching for poor souls that get sucked into everything bad about the place then move on to the do the same thing the next day. Now I'll ask you one more time before we have a problem. Did you happen to see a girl around here? Brown hair, usual attire for the day, quiet, possibly tense or uncomfortable?"

"Release me," some flicker of panic or something similar was in his eyes for a second encouraging me. Instead I dung my thumb into his skin making him bend with my hand all the while he tried to get away from the pain I was causing on his skin.

"Did you?"

"Alright! Yes I did she was sitting over by the café just outside. The blonde girl she came here with left moments afterward and she sat there all day until dark. That's all I know."

"He's telling the truth, she was dragged away by the slimiest of creatures right out of the road," a man spoke up behind the man I was terrorizing. I released the man to move behind him to the gentleman who gave the information.

"How do you know this?"

"I was watching like everyone else seems to do in this shit hole and I spoke with her of course. Very reluctant to go to safety, she was." He sipped something out of a cup.

"Which way did they go?"

"Ah that sir is difficult to tell now but just wait until dark."

"No, nothing good happens here when night comes! Everyone knows that."

"Yes that is true but that is going to be the easiest way to find her. Take my word for it. A viper of a man will come to take you and if you want to find where she is then you should go with the man.

"Are you crazy?"

"No but you are if you came here for a girl. Especially if the girl was stupid enough to come here or smart enough to let herself be forgotten here to escape from whatever she wanted to get away from."

"I wouldn't speak against her if I were you."

"And why's that? Are you going to defend her name?"

"I don't need to. I know just enough of the hell she went through, mostly because I did them to hurt her. She can defend herself just fine."

"Then why search for her if she can?"

"That doesn't mean I can't try to make it all up by helping her besides someone will want her back before she was taken here."

"Ah so you're a part of a very important family then?"

"Yes so what do I do now?"

"Wait until dark son, that's all you can do now." Pushing off the counter, he made his way down the road and out of sight. Taking a seat I did as he told me and waited.

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Proserpina

Groaning I tried to stretch my limps but my arms only extended halfway when I hit cool fabric. Opening my eyes everything was dark but I could see the opening of the bag I was placed in. Struggling to rip open the bag, I fought against the fabric.

"Release her!" A booming voice echoed over me. Frozen now I didn't dare move though the top of the bag was torn open. Slender, bony hands reached towards me then dragged me from it until I stood in a round building. In the building there was no ceiling above me but a circular room forming an arena. Screams and cheering came from on top of the walls where people looked down on me throwing food, clapping and cheering

"Night is over now the day starts. The people are pleased," the slippery voice came from the lean, tall man who gripped my forearm to the bone. His face was shiny with a pointed nose that stuck out of his face. His hands were hard and oily against my skin. He was fully dressed in formal clothes tie, top hat and all. The man pushed me forward releasing me into the arena while others entered.

A boy and another girl entered the arena. The boy swaggered to the cheering clearly understanding what was going to happen. He wore leathers over his clothes and an axe for some unknown reason. The girl was dressed casually in an orange sun dress. She on the other hand wasn't confident but confused of where she was.

"Hey! What's going on?!" I called out to both of them, waving my hands over my head to get their attention.

"We have to fight to win!!" The boy shouted back, grinning.

"Are we fighting each other?!"

"No! We are fighting that!" He motioned to the huge doors to the side that revealed a mutant size grizzly bear. Its eyes were filled with unforgiving anger while it roared and spit, prowled into the room with us.

It charged the boy first but the boy somersaulted out of the way then sticking it with his axe. Screaming the other girl placed her hands in her hair panicking, catching the bear's attention.

"Look out!!" The boy responded to me before running to tackle the girl. Afterwards I was crashing to the floor with pain racking my body. Another bear circled me with his right claw already dripping with scarlet red blood. Running I moved out of its way when it ran down where I was before, wanting to trample me to death. Not stopping until I reached their side I was fully aware of its menacing glare on my back.

"How do we win?" I placed a death grip onto his shoulder.

"Either the timer runs out." He pointed to one of the walls that held a huge clock," we die or the bears die before then."

"We're going to die!!" The girl shrieked tears rushing down her cheeks.

"Hey! Get out of the way!!" he shoved the girl into me forcing me to fall backwards with her when a bear came stomping. Screaming right back at it, he threw his axe. The axe propelled through the air but such force struck quick to the bear's side spilling more blood.

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Astera

Today was the fourth day of Proserpina disappearance. Kaden should've arrived at the town this morning so I was running hard for Carl's apartment. I needed more information and I needed it now for Kaden to get back quicker without his Uncle knowing. Most of all I needed to help to help ease the part of my mind that wouldn't let me forget about it, even in my dreams.

__________________________________________________________

Proserpina

It took one blow to my head and I was down. Dots swam in my vision with the sound of close but distant screams from next to me. Hoping I wasn't too messed up to die here, I shook my head grabbed the girl a little younger than me and dragged her away from the attacking bear.

From across the field I could see the boy calling the bears to him like a fool. Stalking him they crept towards him knowing in their stance. He taunted them cockily though he couldn't take both of them. One stood in front of him, the other coming up from behind making me swear. I shoved the girl down behind me up against the farthest wall and ran at the bear. I aimed for the back of the one behind him. Trying to use speed I circled around behind it then leaped. Hanging off the side of the bear by handfuls of its fur, I forced my body to swing onto it's back still hanging on for dear life.

"Get out of the way!!" I screamed from atop of the bear to the boy as the bear took off in his direction. It bucked, turned sharply trying to rip me from its back. Like a beacon the other bear came over swatting and swiping at me. The claws caught onto my skin then pulled free with red seeping from me but otherwise I didn't come off the bear. Pain blinded me, my ears were deaf with the sound of roaring which I figured out was from the cheering of the crowd. Tears slid down my face without my consent but I let them fall knowing it was from the wounds.

Not being able to hang on any longer my grip slipped letting me tumble to the ground barley missing the back paws of the bear. From somewhere behind the bear that I couldn't see, an axe flew through the air hitting one of the bears right in its chest when it stood up on its back feet. Suddenly the bear fell head first to the ground, the eyes open but unseeing towards me. From behind the body, the boy ran to fetch his axe nodding in my direction unfortunately for the last time. The other bear ran down where the boy was, knocking him to the ground and trampling him. When it turned around he barely moved to get out of the way when the bear gave one last slash and not another twitch came from the body.

A life for a life.

Satisfied the boy was dead after inspection the bear charged right at me. Rolling out of the way the bear stomped at every place I was and missed frustratingly. Doing tricks I did backwards summersaults, slid between the legs of the bear and ran laps trying to lose it, tire it out and distract it from the girl crying by the wall. Meanwhile all around me the crowd booed the dead bear, blaming me for its death before starting to cheer for the bear to kill me.

My lungs burned with a passion, I could still feel the blood running down my body and grains of dirt going into my wounds to make it burn even more. My feet ached from how much I was running laps and my muscles needed a break and like hearing my prayer for this to end soon the timer beeped around the arena. Then there were men whipping the bear so bad until it ran to its cell that I almost felt sorry for it. They closed the doors behind the bear; people guided the girl out of the arena in a bag while others went to the body in the middle of the room dragging him away unkindly.

"Its time to go before dark. It isn't safe in the dark," the oily man whispered in my ear pressing his finger to my wound and pulling back with it covered blood.

"You have said that already," I jerked away from him as he licked his blood covered finger almost making me vomit. "You're disgusting; don't ever do that again."

"More blood is spilled at night."

"What is with you and night?"

"Bad things come from night. I saved you."

"No you didn't if anything you almost gotten me Killed." I snapped at him loud enough he cowered from me for a moment, "You abducted me! That's what you did!"

"Hehehe! I did good this time," grabbing me in the process he dragged me with him.

"Hey no not this time!" Tearing his hand from me, I moved away from him but it still didn't matter. From behind me a cloth was pressed to my mouth and nose and the last thing I remember before passing out was returning to the bag after one last glance at the oily man.

I didn't want to know where I was when nothing came from the other side of the bag when I regained my consciousness. I wanted to be naïve like the little girl, not understanding what death was or why it happened. Despite all my wants I tore myself out of the bag to reveal the world around me.

I had been placed in an iron cage with a lock that needed a key to unlock it. Outside the cage in the room were wooden counter and all around me were empty cages. Some had nothing in them; others had blood on the bars or the floor. Everything in the room was dirty, plain and dark colored showing nothing of comfort with the tense atmosphere.

"I wish I didn't wake up," I whined curling up into myself already frightened of what could happen here.

"That is exactly what I wished for you too, my dear." The first man that spoke to me that night addressed me. He wore a similar suit with his cane but this time the white button up shirt was this time colored a semen color.

"You don't seem to leave me alone. I'm still not going with you," I crossed my arms challenging him but he dismissed it.

"Oh my dear, I already offered you safety and you foolishly didn't take it. Now I am not here as a friend but the person you will fear."

"How's that?"

"Look this is how this will go hour after hour. I will ask you your name and if you answer with something other than what I want then we will have to continue with the process."

"What process?"

"Let us begin," he clicked the lock open with a key, swinging open my cage door. Skittish, I scrambled from the cage to a few feet away just wanting to be out of the cage.

"How does this work?" I squeaked at him.

"Now Proserpina right?"

"Yes how do you know my name?"

"That I got from someone you know. Now what's your name?"

"Proserpina you just said that," I answered dryly. I screamed when the head of his cane smashed into my leg and I crashed to the ground.

"What's your name?"

"Proserpina!!" I answered him again. His cane struck me across the face making my lip bleed.

"I will ask again, what's your name?"

_____________________________________________________

Kaden

"Kaden!! I need you to trust me!!" After waiting for so long I had gotten up from my chair to stretch and maybe catch the creature's attention if he was out. It was night outside, giving me the realization of how long I had really been waiting. Then I was dragged into an alley with Astera whispering urgently to me to give her my attention. "What is it Astera? Why are you here?" Her eyes were wide and alarmed with her voice coming out heavy and in such haste it was almost impossible to process what she said right away.

"I know how to get Proserpina back but I need you to trust me, do you understand?! I need you to be able to trust me with your life! Do you?"

"Umm...yes Astera, you never did anything wrong by me."

"Good remember that. Lord help me," Astera mumbled under her breath. I tried to decode why she was here and why she was praying for help but then everything went black. Then I felt myself start tumbling to the ground but I was gone by the time I hit the floor.

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